Another weekend road trip to Iowa to support Hillary Clinton and I haven’t gotten bored or fatigued yet. It’s also another opportunity to get with old friends and meet new ones. On the left is Colonel Bradford, a longtime Chicago area businessmen, and in the middle, is our new friend, Charlotte Rotman. Charlotte is a journalist for the French journal “Les Jours” which is available online at www.lesjours.fr is you read French. She’s visiting from Paris and it seems that they are very interested in what’s going on in our election here in America.
I thinking they are struggling to understand the Donald Trump phenomena and the strangeness of it all. I have been struggling to understand the logic of his rise to political power myself and the closest I can come to explaining it is that there is some subconscious rationale, some pathological compulsions, as to why so many Americans, who for centuries have prided themselves on their tolerance, their compassion, and their service to humanity, have all of a sudden embraced a candidate that dismisses all of those virtues as mere political correctness.
I understand his core following that he amassed during the primaries–the disaffected and the disillusioned. But America didn’t just start losing jobs. They’ve been losing them for 30 years and in those years, they’ve gained more than they have lost. It’s just a different demographic that’s benefitting from those new jobs and the American Dream. So much for the “privilege” of thinking you had jobs for life, at the expense of others who may work just as hard and sacrifice just as much as you.
I also understand the deplorables too–the neo-Nazis, the alt-right and the David Dukes, the former Ku Klux Klan grand wizard who is running for U.S. Senate in Louisiana. He is Trumps official translator, so when Trump says “Make America ‘Great’ Again”, the deplorables understand “Make America White Again.” (Just yesterday the “Crusader” a prominent publication of the Ku Klux Klan endorsed Trump noting: “America was great not because of what our forefathers did — but because of who our forefathers were…America was founded as a White Christian Republic. And as a White Christian Republic it became great.“) I hate to burst your bubble but America is not going to be white again. The numbers are not in your favor and your history of mistreatment of minorities does not bode well for them keeping you in power.
I even understand the late comers to the Trump fold–those who found his character repugnant early on but decided to come around when they saw how solid and enthusiastic his core following was. Their position could only be described as either political expedience or schizophrenia. House Speaker Paul Ryan, despite being “sickened” by revelations of Trump’s sexual assault admissions and criticizing him for anti-Semitism, “textbook” racism, inciting violence, associating with white supremacists and implying the shooting of Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton could remedy an election loss, this week proudly announced that he had voted for the Republican nominee, refusing to even mention his toxic name. It will be interesting to see which of these illnesses he claims when he tries to run for President in 2020.
And Ted Cruz who initially refused to endorse Trump and was booed off the stage at the Republican National Convention has now taken to the road to support Trump. Cruz is even more extreme that Trump but that is another issue that should be thoroughly explored in 2020. Political expedience is not a new strategy for those willing to do whatever it takes to gain power and a temporary advantage. Allah (G-d) says in the Holy Qur’an, in reference to Joseph’s brothers, who in their selfishness were determined to keep all the power and blessing:
“Slay ye Joseph or cast him out to some (unknown) land, that so the favour of your father may be given to you alone: (there will be time enough) for you to be righteous after that!” 12:9
Then there is the group of Trump supporters, that even though much smaller, defied logic and whose rationale was even more difficult to understand. Those are the Hispanics and African Americans. I see those as victims of the oxymoronic–sweetest pain—or masochists. Okay all Hispanics are not Mexicans so they will not all be impacted by a wall along our southern border. But do they think when racism and xenophobia are brought into the mainstream that Trump supporters will distinguish between them? It’s like light skinned Blacks back in the day, who although they were subject to the same lynching and Jim Crow laws as other Blacks, historically still had a little more privilege and a little more freedom to move about in white society.
The hardest group of would be Trump supporters to understand are African Americans. I know he has promised to transform America’s African American communities and I know some who are fascinated by his ostentatious show of wealth. But I ask them how can you be so foolish by false promises when he’s preaching to the other 96% of his following that he’s “going to put niggers in their place” (Translates to Law and Order- it means he will support and protect the rogue policemen who have preyed on our communities and he will demonize and sic his followers on anyone that disagrees with him). They see America being great again as the period of slavery up to the 1960’s. I guess it’s no harder to understand them than it is to understand the victims of domestic abuse. “O, I love the African Americans” (but the Black Lives Matter protestor thugs should be beaten back into the submissiveness of the earlier “great” period.) The great singer Billie Holiday hit the nail on the head in her song “My Man”:
I don’t know why I should
He isn’t true
He beats me, too
What can I do?
Oh, my man, I love him so
He’ll never know
All my life is just despair
But I don’t care
When he takes me in his arms
The world is bright
At the same time that he’s professing that love, his Republican Party, over the last decades, has taken over state Legislatures and enacted every law that they could to restrict African American voters. Nothing new here. White Southerners dreamed up all kinds of barriers designed to keep blacks from voting–registration at inconvenient times, frequent re-registration, arbitrarily or impossible literacy tests (how many marbles are in a jar), intimidation, insults, threats, and sometimes arrest and registration information passed on to the Citizens Council or the Ku Klux Klan.
Fast forward to the 21st century and we see the same thing. The U.S. 4th Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond, Va., just ruled that the regime of voter ID laws passed in North Carolina clearly demonstrated that the “disenfranchisement of blacks was the very goal of the legislation” and that it “target African-Americans with almost surgical precision” in an effort to depress black turnout at the polls. In Texas, a federal appeals court ruled that Texas’ voter identification law, one of the strictest in the country, violated the Voting Rights Act and that the state must find ways to accommodate voters who face hardships in obtaining the necessary documents. In court cases that temporarily invalidated some of the voter ID laws in North Carolina, Wisconsin and North Dakota, election officials could barely cite one case in which a person was charged with in-person voting fraud. All research and government investigations and courts have proved voter fraud is mostly a myth citing the instances of voter fraud, as being .006 percent out of billion.
Now Trump’s own campaign officials have acknowledged their own strategies for suppressing the African American vote. The October 27, 2016 Atlantic magazine quotes a BusinessWeek cover story, that acknowledges: “Instead of expanding the electorate, [campaign chairman Steve] Bannon and his team are trying to shrink it. “We have three major voter suppression operations under way,” says a senior official. They’re aimed at three groups Clinton needs to win overwhelmingly: idealistic white liberals, young women, and African Americans.”
“O, but he loves us.” Honorable Elijah Muhammad perhaps more than anyone put this attitude in African Americans in perspective in the early lesson he presented to his followers in the Nation of Islam to explain this inordinate love of someone who and treated African American so mean. The lesson read “He likes the Devil because the Devil gives him nothing.” I know of no other way to describe this attitude except as freaks for pain. But with that said and with all compassion for my brothers and sisters, I still ask you to come back home to rational thinking and let’s stay on the path to moving forward together.